Thandog-under-blanketks to the Houston Fire Marshall for some great tips to help ensure that your pets are safe and happy this New Year’s Eve.  Fireworks can be seriously stressful for some pets, so here are a few steps you can take to make sure your best friend is comfortable:

 

 

  • Do not take your pets to a fireworks display.
  • Do not leave pets in the car by themselves or unattended outside.
  • Keep all pets inside. If you are having guests, keep the pets in a room that is off-limits to the guests.
  • Create a calming environment. Surround pets with their favorite toys and other familiar objects.
  • Play soothing music or keep the TV on and keep the room as quiet as possible to outside noise by closing windows, doors and blinds.
  • Do not let pets sniff or ingest fireworks. Aside from a severe burn, your pet can become ill or even die from ingesting chemicals and heavy metals in fireworks.
  • Make sure your pet is licensed and wearing its license tag. Consult with your veterinarian and seriously consider micro chipping your four-legged friend. These two items help ensure the pet will be reunited with his family if he gets lost.

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Have Cat Allergies but Want to Adopt a Cat?

by Melanie on August 25, 2015

in Cats,Pets

two kittens jumping picture

Want to adopt a cat, but you’re allergic to cats? You say you’re prepared to take antihistamines, and you have a HEPA air filter in your home?

Some cat breeds are considered more “hypoallergenic”  than others. Cats do produce cat dander, an allergen, but the real problem for the estimated ten percent of the population who are allergic to cats may be a protein, Fel d 1, that is present in cat saliva and on cats’ skin.

Truth is, there are no 100% hypoallergenic domestic cats. But some may produce less Fel d 1.   Additionally, male cats usually produce more of the Fel d 1 protein than females, especially if they aren’t neutered.  Here’s a list of those cats which are considered to be more hypoallergenic than others:

 

 

 

 

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Attacks from predators? No.  Falls?  No.  According to the AVMA, exposure to disease is a much bigger risk.  From the AVMA website, some good-to-know info:

Outdoor enthusiasts and their animal companions (including dogs and horses) can be exposed to infectious diseases not only from infected animals and improperly cooked food, but also via insect vectors and contaminated soil and water. Diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans, either through direct contact with the animal or a contaminated surface or water, through ingestion of animal products (including meat and milk) or through insect transmission from an animal are called zoonotic (pronounced ZO-oh-NOT-ik or zoo-NOT-ik) diseases. Insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, flies, fleas or mites serve as vectors, capable of transmitting infection from an infected animal to another animal or a person.

Some common sense guidelines:

  • Avoid camping/backpacking/hiking if you are feeling ill or if your animal companion is ill. People and animals are more prone to disease if their immune systems are weakened by other illnesses or conditions.
  • Keep your outdoor gear (including tents, netting, sleeping bags, etc.) in good condition and repair or replace damaged items.
  • Take precautions to minimize insect bites.
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer immediately after handling animals, soil, equipment, or food.
  • Wash tools, cooking equipment and working surfaces (including tables and cutting boards) thoroughly with soap and water after use. If contamination with soil or animal feces (stool) is suspected or known, disinfect the equipment and surfaces immediately. Adding a minimum of 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 gallon of water is usually adequate for use as a cleaning/disinfecting solution.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat.
  • In the United States, campers and hikers/backpackers should report any signs of sick wildlife or wild bird die-off to the state’s game and fish agency or wildlife agency.
  • Make sure your animal companions are up-to-date on their vaccines, especially rabies, prior to camping/hiking season.
  • Consult your veterinarian about proper preventive treatments for your animals, such as heartworm prevention for dogs and cats, and use the products as recommended.
  • Consult your veterinarian about regular stool exams of dogs to check them for parasites, including those that can be passed to people.
  • Do not allow your dog to eat dead wildlife.
  • Outdoor enthusiasts who regularly travel with animal companions should consider getting some basic training in human and animal first aid techniques. In addition, carrying a first aid kit with supplies for humans and animals is extremely important.

Tick-borne diseases and their prevention deserve a post all their own.  Coming soon.  In the meantime, take the proper steps to protect your pet and yourself, but get on out there!

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By ERYN BROWN

There’s a new strain of cdog with icepackanine flu in the U.S., and it has some pet owners worried about their furry family members.

More than 1,000 dogs caught the illness during a recent outbreak in Chicago, and infections are reportedly emerging in other states, including California. But the H3N2 canine flu — not to be confused with the seasonal H3N2 human flu that sickened so many people last winter — is no cause for panic, experts say.

Most dogs won’t get seriously ill if they catch dog flu. What’s more, a contagious virus in dogs is unlikely to spread rapidly (as flu can in people) because dogs simply aren’t as mobile, or as social, as we are.

“In humans, this would be a pandemic virus,” said Colin Parrish, a virologist at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and member of an informal task force tracking the canine flu’s spread and effects. “But dogs don’t fly around the world in large numbers and shake each other’s hands. Because they don’t have the same social structure as humans, the viruses spread more slowly.”

There are two types of dog flu. The first, H3N8, is nearly identical to a virus that has been known for more than 40 years to infect horses. The virus adapted to dogs, first infecting them in the U.S. in 2004, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The second dog flu, H3N2, is a mutated version of a virus that occurs in birds, and was first found in dogs in Asia in 2007. It appeared in the U.S. last month. Although it’s not fully known how it made its way here, Parrish said some believe that it may have been carried over during the rescue of dogs being raised for meat in South Korea.

The American Veterinary Medical Assn. reports that dogs that are sickened by canine flu fall into two categories: those with a mild form (causing coughing, lethargy and sometimes a nasal discharge) and those with a more severe version accompanied by high fevers and pneumonia. Some dogs can catch the flu and not have symptoms at all.

“It’s the entire range, just like in people,” said Dr. Polina Vishkautsan, a UC Davis veterinarian.

Dogs that get sick from canine flu can be treated with supportive care such as antibiotics for secondary infections or fever-reducing medications, and most get better in two to three weeks. Fewer than 10% of dogs confirmed to have canine flu die as a result of the infection, the CDC says.

Although a vaccine is available for the H3N8 strain, scientists don’t know whether it would prevent H3N2 infections, Vishkautsan said. She said that she doubted it would, because of differences between proteins in the two flu types.

Dogs at the highest risk of contracting canine flu are those that have the most contact with other dogs, often in such locations as boarding kennels, doggy day care and animal shelters.

Both Vishkautsan and Parrish said they had heard reports of at least one confirmed H3N2 dog flu infection in Southern California, but they didn’t have details.
Crucially, canine influenza is not known to have ever infected people — though it was reported to have sickened some cats in South Korea in 2010. The CDC calls the viruses “a low threat to humans” but will continue to monitor them both, in case either mutates and gains the ability to infect humans (as the pandemic H1N1 swine flu and the deadly H5N1 bird flu did in the past.)

To prevent infection in pets, owners should exercise caution before taking dogs to locations where other infected animals are likely to be. Hand washing can also help halt the spread of disease. And if dogs do develop symptoms, owners should keep them away from other dogs.

“It’s mostly just common sense,” Vishkautsan said.

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cat in towelI just want to say thank you and I’m so proud of you to all of our sitters. You faithfully carried out every visit through all the storms, flooding, cancelled flights, and impassable roads. Every single pet was cared for. I appreciate your going above and beyond. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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sleeping woman and dogWhile there’s no denying that pets just love snuggling up with their favorite pet sitter, that’s not the only benefit to having your pet sitter bring the jammies and bunny slippers and stay overnight.  Just knowing that someone is there to look after your pets and to make your home look lived in and uninviting to burglars will give you peace of mind to enjoy your vacation or to be at your sharpest for a business trip.  Houston’s Best Pet Sitters clients who have tried our overnight pet sitting service come back again and again.

 The best way to keep your beloved pet safe while you’re away is to have someone you trust staying in your home.  This will also eliminate the need to have newspapers and mail delivery stopped.  The fewer people who know you’ll be away, the better.  We’ll bring in the flyers off the door and those annoying yellow pages books from the porch.  Lights on and off, a car coming and going, looks like business as usual at your home.  Give us a call now and book your overnight pet sitters.  Your furry buddy will thank you!

 

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There’s just no explaining some things.

 

cat contortionist

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I recently braved the construction going on in the Montrose/River Oaks/Midtown areas for a quick visit/key exchange with one of our pet sitters, Deena.  I enjoyed the visit and the fact that Deena always very generously lets me hold her tiny poodle, Keoki (that’s him in the picture).
When I first met Deena, we needed a pet sitter and dog walker in Montrose.  Deena, who lived in Montrose, wanted a pet sitting and dog walking job that would work with her classes.  As we chatted during that first meeting, she casually reached into her bag and out popped a little white head, followed by a little white body.  A few minutes later, she told me that energetic little guy is 17 years old.  You’d never know it to look at him.
Deena and Keoki are happily settled into their new home, very conveniently located for a pet sitter, except for the seemingly never-ending construction on Shepherd.   Deena is also settling in with our pet sitting and dog walking clients in her area.  When I asked her for a little “official” bio for Houston’s Best Pet Sitters’ clients, I told her it didn’t necessarily have to be all about pets.  But somehow, like all pet lovers, she ended up making it all about pets after all.  So allow me to introduce Deena.
Deena and Keoki Deena and Keoki
My name is Deena and I am from Kailua, Hawaii.  I have always had a strong affinity for pets. In my life, there has been nothing that gives me more peace of mind than the company of animals.
I believe in great care for the health of my pets, as I would for yours. Many of my “tailed children” have lived long prosperous lives; two of them made it well past the 20 year mark. Currently my 17 year old dog still has the vitality of a puppy despite all of his early-on health scares.
 
 All of my canine pets (and even one of the cats) have had weekly professional training, which I attended and participated in.  I hope to share some of these passions and skills with your furry family members. 

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Houston Pet Sitters Vote for Best Cat Litter

August 27, 2014

Once upon a time, I was cleaning the litter box during a cat sitting visit, and thinking about how much difference cat litter makes in cleaning the box.  On the way to the next pet sitting visit, I started wondering if other sitters had an opinion about the best–and worst–cat litter types and brands. I sent out […]

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Houston’s Best Pet Sitters: Preparing Your Pet for Disaster

August 13, 2014

  Can you believe it? It’s been thirty-one years. Thirty-one years ago next Monday, Hurricane Alicia tore through Houston, leaving a mess you had to see to believe.  We lived in the Galleria then.  I remember walking down Westheimer with Bobby,  just after the storm.  I had never seen that street empty, day or night. Filling in […]

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